The University of North Texas board of regents approved a contract extension for head football coach Seth Littrell today. The new contract will keep him roaming the sidelines in Denton through the 2021 season.
Hired a little over a year ago by since-departed UNT AD Rick Villarreal, Littrell inherited a team that had gone 1-11 the previous year. In one season, Littrell took the Mean Green to a 5-8 record, including their loss in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. The new deal is expected to pay Littrell $5 million over the next five years, according to USA Today.
New AD Wren Baker has stated this was an aggressive move to keep Littrell in Denton, which is particularly timely after co-defensive coordinator Mike Ekeler was hired away by North Carolina just last week.
This has been a busy couple of weeks for Littrell, who recently re-finalized his staff after the departure of Ekeler and a handful of others. co-defensive coordinator Troy Reffett was named sole DC, and Jeff Koonz, formerly of Cincinnati, was named Linebackers coach.
It’s worth noting that former North Texas coach Dan McCarney also received an extension back in 2014, his third year on the job. The following year McCarney famously tanked the entire season and was fired after getting blown out by a FCS team at homecoming.
The reasons for optimism under Littrell, however, are three-fold:
First, the deal was not made by the outgoing AD, but by new and improved AD Baker.
Second, Littrell has shown immediate improvement, where McCarney only made a bowl in his third season, before immediately falling off the cliff in his fourth.
Third, Littrell has a history of winning, from his time in North Carolina as Associate Head Coach, to his time as offensive coordinator back in Indiana and Arizona. This remains a step up from former coach McCarney, who has a lifetime losing record, and former coach Todd Dodge (2007-2010), whose only wins came at the high school level.
The Mean Green next have their spring game on April 8th, followed by their 2017 season opener against FCS Lamar on Sep. 2.